Vehicular Pollution

The large majority of today's cars and trucks travel by using internal combustion engines that burn gasoline or other fossil fuels. The process of burning gasoline to power cars and trucks contributes to air pollution by releasing a variety of emissions into the atmosphere.

Visual Pollution

Visual pollution is an aesthetic issue, referring to the impacts of pollution that impair one's ability to enjoy a vista or view. The term is used broadly to cover visibility, limits on the ability to view distant objects, as well as the more subjective issue of visual clutter, structures that intrude upon otherwise "pretty" scenes, as well as graffiti and other visual defacement.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are small organic molecules that take part in photochemical reactions in the atmosphere, resulting in smog. They have low boiling points and vaporize easily.


War, defined as armed conflict between nations or between opposing factions within a nation, can have grave consequences for the environment, public health, and natural resources. The impact of military tactics and weaponry extends beyond military targets to affect civilian populations and their infrastructure, air and water; armed forces directly target forests, jungles, and other ecosystems in order to deprive enemy troops of cover, shelter, and food; mass refugee movements and other disruptions caused by armed conflict can deplete nearby sources of timber and wildlife; and the general atmosphere of lawlessness that often prevails during or after conflict can make it difficult to prevent illegal logging, mining, and poaching.

Warren County, North Carolina

In 1982 residents of the predominantly African-American Warren County, North Carolina, began to protest the construction of a hazardous waste landfill near Warrenton in which the state planned to bury 400,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The contamination occurred when a disposal contractor dripped approximately 12,850 gallons of PCB-tainted fluids along 210 miles of roads in fourteen counties in North Carolina in 1978.


Waste has been defined as a moveable object with no direct use that is discarded permanently. There are many different kinds of waste, including solid, liquid, gaseous, hazardous, radioactive, and medical.

Waste, International Trade in

During the past three decades, one of the most persistent international environmental issues has been the toxic waste trade between industrialized countries and less developed nations. From 1968 to 1988 alone, more than 3.6 million tons of toxic waste—solvents, acetone, cobalt, cadmium, chemical and pharmaceutical waste, and perhaps some low-level radioactive waste—were shipped to less developed nations.

Waste, Transportation of

The transportation of waste is the movement of waste over a specific area by trains, tankers, trucks, barges, or other vehicles. The types of wastes that may be transported range from municipal garbage to radioactive or hazardous wastes.

Waste Reduction

Waste reduction, also known as source reduction, is the practice of using less material and energy to minimize waste generation and preserve natural resources. Waste reduction is broader in scope than recycling and incorporates ways to prevent materials from ending up as waste before they reach the recycling stage.

Waste to Energy

Waste to energy (WTE) is the term used to describe the conversion of waste by-products into useful steam or steam-generated electricity. Typically, WTE is produced by converting municipal solid waste (MSW), which is defined as residential and commercial refuse, and makes up the largest source of waste in industrialized countries.

Wastewater Treatment

Wastewater is simply water that has been used. It usually contains various pollutants, depending on what it was used for.

Water Pollution

Water covers more than 70 percent of Earth's surface. It is essential to all life.

Water Pollution: Freshwater

Liquid waste pouring from pipe into flowing river. (United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Water Pollution: Marine

Marine pollution is the release of by-products of human activity that cause harm to natural marine ecosystems. The pollutants may be sewage, farm waste, toxic chemicals, or inert materials that may smother, choke, or strangle living organisms.

Water Treatment

The goal of water treatment, usually from surface sources such as lakes, reservoirs, or rivers, is to remove contaminants and organisms through a combination of biological, chemical, and physical processes to make it safe for drinking. Some of these occur in the natural environment, whereas others occur in engineered and constructed water treatment plants.


Employees are the eyes and ears of environmental protection. They bury waste, operate incinerators, and witness the discharge of pollutants into the environment.

Wise-Use Movement

The wise-use movement is a general term relating to an approach to the management of federal lands in the United States that encompasses many themes, but emphasizes a preference for extractive (e.g., mining, oil drilling) or utilitarian (e.g., grazing) uses over ecological, scenic, wildlife, or aesthetic values. The movement was founded in 1988 by Ron Arnold and Alan Gottlieb, who run the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise based in Seattle, Washington.

Workers Health Bureau

The Workers Health Bureau of America (WHB), active from 1921 to 1928, was a grassroots organization run by Grace Burnham, Harriet Silverman, and Charlotte Todes. Primarily an advocacy organization, WHB is known for focusing public attention on occupational health and safety issues for the first time.

World Trade Organization

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was an international organization created in 1947 to reduce trade barriers through multilateral negotiations. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was organized in January 1995 to replace GATT and improve international trade.


Although writers have explored the relationship between humans and the natural world for centuries, they primarily viewed the environment as subordinate to the needs of civilization and human progress. However, by the middle of the nineteenth century, writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson began to reinterpret the significance of nature and our relationship to it.

Yucca Mountain

The United States has accumulated more than forty thousand tons of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes from commercial, research, and defense activities with an estimated two thousand tons added every year. The materials are currently stored in thirty-nine states at 131 temporary aboveground facilities, requiring constant monitoring and maintenance.

Zero Population Growth

Malthus's Essay on Population, published in 1798, still plays a role in environmental policymaking. The discrepancy between rates of human population growth and agricultural productivity lies at the heart of Malthusianism.